So it finally arrived, the day of my first CBT session, I was very excited, even though I slept in almost two hours later than what I did, luckily I planned to wake up too early. So then there I was, feeling anxious, waiting for the bus. I was in the town centre, a good 2 hours early, luckily there’s a town centre near my mental health clinic. I had a panic attack on the bus, a mild one compared to others, but luckily I texted my friend, who helped me take my mind off things.
Then it was 1pm. I was in the waiting room a massive 1 hour early, silly me. It didn’t take long for the hour to past, and then my name was called, I thought to my self “first part of my recovery now, you can do it”
I opened up about how much of a bad week I’ve had, in terms of feelings, anxiety and depression. It felt good to let it all out, I then filled out the usual PHQ-9 and GAD 7 forms. sheet where you circle if you’ve felt what it says in the last two weeks, several days, every day etc. Anxiety stayed the same, I expected that. Depression was a lot higher, I expected that also, I’ve had one of the worst weeks in years.
Then we got right into the session, it was mainly another intro one she said, we talked about a lot of things, mainly my panic attacks, which I was very confused on as I thought we’d talk about anxiety first which causes them.
Fight or flight
We first talked about the fight or flight, it’s your body’s natural response to situations that you perceive to be a threat, basically when you have a panic attack, this is what happens. Social situations are my threat. There’s so many physical affects with the fight or flight mode your body automatically switches to in situations, which causes a panic attack. My therapist explained it, like my body getting ready to fight a tiger, but there’s no tiger, it’s just situations that cause the panic attacks, i.e social situations. All the symptoms I get in a panic attack (dry mouth, choking feeling at times, palpitations, breathing very heavily.
Cycle of Panic
She filled out this cycle for me, before I was in the session, I think she called it the 5 box cycle or something like that, its basically just a visualised cycle of panic with boxes saying “thoughts and images” “body/physical sensations” “moods/emotions” and then “behaviours” She filled the boxes in with the information I gave her last week, i.e in the thoughts and images, there’s information like, overthinking situations, catashropising events. She left the “situation” box blank, simply because all these sensations, emotions are caused by many situations.
My therapist then gave me a sheet to take home, with loads more information on anxiety and depression, the panic diary is just a table to fill in columns “situation” “Main body sensations” “negative thought” “answer to that thought” “behaviour & consequence” and “how long panic lasted” to give her more understanding on when I get panic attacks, but sometimes I just get them randomly, but she knows that, I think?
That’s all we went through this session, my sessions are only 30 mins, and I only have one a week, which I might talk to her about it next week if I feel up to it, we did go through some breathing exercises but she said we’d go into more detail next week.
I felt awful going out of it, I expected much more, but now I feel pretty confident it’s going to work.
As always, thanks for reading!